LONDON, The former Pakistani Prime Minister, Ms. Benazir Bhutto allegedly ran a secret campaign on Kashmir from the Pak. High Commission in London, draining huge funds to "woo" British lawmakers for toeing Islamabad's line on the issue, a BBC report disclosed.
"The former Pakistan High Commissioner to U.K., Mr. Wajid Shamsul Hasan was given access to hundreds of thousands of pounds from the so called Pakistan Projection Fund for this secret campaign," the BBC reported on Thursday alleging that maverick Labour Member of Parliament, Mr. George Galloway was the "kingpin" in the project.
Correspondence between Mr. Galloway and the successive Prime Ministers, Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Nawaz Sharif on the channeling of funds for creating a "National lobby on Kashmir" among members of British Parliament, was displayed as evidence in the documentary shown in the prime time `Newsnight' programme.
Ms. Bhutto, at one instance, had allocated pound 547,000 to enable Mr. Galloway publish a pro-Pakistan newspaper called East, which had Mr. Galloway and Mr. Hasan as the founding member and a fellow director, the report said. The revelations are likely to cause a major embarrassment to the Labour Government, particularly the Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth office, Mr. Derek Fatchett, who has started a dialogue with pro-Pakistani Kashmiri groups here.
`Newsnight' quoted former editor of East, Mr. Nadene Ghouri, handpicked by Mr. Galloway himself, as admitting, "I was working with Mr. Galloway from the beginning and was aware of lots of documents floating around, lots of cheques and bank accounts for the lobby work on Kashmir." `Newsnight' has also obtained documents signed by Mr. Galloway acknowledging the receipts of one cheque for pound 50,000 and another for ten thousand pounds on behalf of the "National lobby on Kashmir."
These events would create similar ripples in the House of Commons as the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee last year expressed its concern after Mr. Galloway admitted receiving pound 50,000 from the opposition parties in Saudi Arabia.
`Newsnight' said when approached Mr. Galloway refused to tell them where the money came from and where it was banked but claimed in a letter that National lobby on Kashmir was "supporting a struggle against a brutal enemy".
After the launch of the newspaper East, `Newsnight' reported that as the paper ran up huge debts and desperate for funds, Mr. Galloway rushed to Pakistan to plead with new Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif for more official Pakistani funds, even though his well-wisher Ms. Bhutto had been ousted.
The BBC said after Mr. Galloway's intervention in Islamabad, the Pakistan Government agreed to pay another pound 189,000 to keep East going upto elections in Britain.
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